Dr. Gallup and the Vampire

Reprinted from the Summer 2008 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter From Joseph Citro’s Book “Green Mountain Ghosts, Ghouls & Unsolved Mysteries” we get this story. True? Or not? You decide.

… About 100 years later, the most famous- or at least the most long-lived and publicized- case of Vermont vampirism came to the public’s attention. It was reported in the Boston Transcript during the first week of October 1890. A more complete accounting of the remarkable events appeared as a one page story in Woodstock’s own newspaper, the Vermont Standard. Imagine seeing this headline while sipping your morning coffee: “Vampirism in Woodstock.”

The article recalled events that supposedly occurred in the 1830’s when a local man named Corwin died of consumption.

His body was buried in the Cushing Cemetery. A while later, his brother – presumably also named Corwin – began wasting away. Of course the living Corwin may have been showing symptoms of his dead brother’s disease. Or, as was the common wisdom, there might have been a more grisly alternative. Perhaps the dead Corwin had come back as a vampire, his spirit rising from the grave every night to feed on the blood of his living brother.

To find out for sure, the town fathers ordered the body disinterred. A horrifying discovery convinced them they were dealing with the supernatural. Dr. Joseph Gallup, the town’s leading physician and head of Vermont Medical College, observed that “the vampire’s heart contained its victim’s blood”

(though how he was able to determine that remains a mystery).

There was only one way to stop the spread of evil: concerned parties would assemble on Woodstock’s boat shaped green and perform an exorcism.

Predictably, most of the town’s population turned out for the event. Dr. Gallup and Woodstock’s other physicians built a fire in the middle of the green, heated up an iron pot and cooked the undecayed heart until it was reduced to ashes.

Then they buried the pot and ashes in a hole fifteen feet deep, covered it with a 7 ton slab of granite before refilling the hole, sprinkled everything with bull’s blood for purification.

Finally they forced the dying Corwin to swallow a ghastly medicine made of bull’s blood mixed with some of his brother’s ashes. They believed that this concoction would break the vampire’s curse and stop the victim’s body from wasting away.

Unfortunately, we never learn if Brother Corwin survived the disease, let alone the cure, but the town fathers were convinced they had rid Woodstock of vampirism forever

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